Contemporary studies have shown that around 60% of people with ADHD have at least one comorbid condition. An accurate ADHD evaluation must screen for far more than ADHD, which reveals potential comorbid conditions. Though 60% of those with ADHD have some comorbid psychiatric condition, they rarely factor into psychiatric evaluations, which can lead to incomplete diagnoses.
Checklist evaluations for ADHD, while helpful for screening, are inadequate when used alone. While most doctors and mental health professionals do not perform physical exams, the “history and physical” remains the cornerstone of a medical evaluation. Getting information from both a physician and mental health professional is best practice.
Whether or not you have been diagnosed with ADHD, be sure to ask your doctor if you might have any of the following comorbid conditions that often go hand-in-hand with ADHD:
Common ADHD Coexisting Disorders
Around 30-50% of people with ADHD have a learning disorder (LD).
Dyslexia. The most common learning disability. Dyslexia slows down your reading and spelling.
Dyscalculia (math dyslexia). Dyscalculia involves trouble with math facts, counting, computation, and trouble solving word problems.
Dysgraphia. Trouble with handwriting, an awkward way of gripping a pen or pencil, trouble spacing written words or letters, frequent need to erase, or awkward body position while writing.
Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). DCD typically involves clumsiness, problems with coordination, dexterity issues, or awkwardness in movement.
Treatment for these LDs include specialized tutoring or coaching, occupational therapy, and counseling or therapy to help with emotional trauma that may arise from having an LD.
Diagnostic terms for potential behavioral issues developing from untreated comorbid disorders include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). A child may move from ODD to CD to ASPD as they age (though these conditions are more common in males) without proper intervention and treatment. It’s critical to get help early on, and treatment is best undertaken by a team of providers.
Anxiety may occur in the wake of untreated ADHD. Once an individual takes stimulant medication and gains focus and control, anxiety may wane.
Sometimes a person has a freestanding anxiety disorder that won’t be helped by ADHD-specific medication. These conditions need to be treated with a combination of education, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), physical exercise, positive human connection, and, perhaps, medication, such as an SSRI or an anxiolytic.
Depression. What looks like depression may occur in the wake of untreated ADHD. If the person responds well to ADHD medication, performance improves and the “depression” disappears.
Dysthymia. The sadness and low mood of dysthymia is less severe than with depression, but it lasts longer.
Lifelong low mood. Historically, there have been many terms for this, but a common clinical observation is that some people who have ADHD struggle with low mood and emotional dysregulation.
Bipolar disorder. Up to 1 in 13 patients with ADHD has comorbid BD, and up to 1 in 6 patients with BD has comorbid ADHD .
Substance use disorders. SUD is common with ADHD, as are behavioral addictions or compulsions. Do not let shame hold you back from talking with your doctor about them. There are treatments other than willpower and white-knuckling.
If you or your child is given an ADHD diagnosis, be sure to ask your doctor about the conditions listed here as well as any other issues that may not have come up during the evaluation. To get the best results — to experience the total life re-make this diagnosis can trigger — you need to treat the entire self.
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Original article posted by ADDitude Mag.Tags: add, adhd, attention deficit, behavior, brain health, Mental disorders, mental health